Every Christian past and present is a member of God’s church – known as the universal church. At the same time Christians need to spend time with like minded people – learning, praying, worshiping and serving. This is known as the local church.
The Body of Christ
God calls the Church His body and He is the head. A human body is made up of many different organs, limbs and cells, all having different functions. In the same way the church is made up of different people. Every one of us is a vital part of the Body of Christ and each of us has a different function and responsibility, and the Holy Spirit has given each of us different gifts (Romans 12:6 -8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-12) in order that we can fulfill these responsibilities.
The Bride of Christ
God also calls the church the Bride of Christ. No man wants to marry a prostitute or someone who has slept around but he wants a woman who is pure, and has eyes for just one man and kept her virginity specifically for him. The same is true of the Bride of Christ. God desires that we will be pure having eyes for no one else and living solely for Him, to please Him, worship Him and serve Him alone. Many people were involved in idolatry or sins of many different kinds that displeased God before they became Christians. But when we become Christians He cleanses, forgives and begins a work of transformation in us so that when He looks upon us He sees us as pure. Together with every Christian of the universal church we will stand united before God on the last day, and be completely united with Christ as a man and woman on their wedding day.
Salt and light
We are also Salt and light. The local church should be part of the community and living out the life of Christ in their separate communities so that everyone around them who does not know God will be affected. Just as darkness cannot exist where light is and as bacteria and germs cannot exist where salt is, the church should have a cleansing, brightening effect on the community. The local church should be made up of Christians who live near each other. It should be led by godly leaders who should seek after God, his will and hear his voice, and they will look after the Christians in their care as a family cares for brothers, sisters, children, and the elderly. The leaders should teach them from God’s word, lead them by the example of men and women who hear God’s voice and obey him, so that every Christian in the local church will come to maturity, and becomes a disciple of Christ, and themselves have a close relationship with God.
Worship and prayer
Together the church worships and prays, from this comes the desire to serve one another and to reach out in mission to the lost, beginning with those in the local area and sending people out all over the world as representatives of the church to share the good news of the gospel. Believers in turn will make disciples, begin local churches, who will make disciples who will reach out in mission first locally and then globally. This comes from Jesus’ great commission (Matthew 28:18 – 20) to the first disciples, the first local church in history.
If you are a Christian you are a member of the universal church and have a responsibility to find a local church, so that you can join with them in worship, prayer, to be taught and grow into a mature disciple of Christ and be able to serve the Lord and the church with the gifts he has given you. No Christian can survive is isolation, with no one teaching, encouraging them in worship, praise and prayer. Without this a Christian’s life will wither. This is the point of the church.